Juliet at Eclogues (who seems to have recovered from her spam-induced silence, hurray!) posts on a theme that has been much on my mind of late (thanks to a book Jonathon sent me, about which I hope to post before hell freezes over).
Shklovsky, from Art and Device (1917): “A work of art is the sum total of all s[t]ylistic devices employed in it.”
Trotsky, from Literature and Revolution, published 7 years later in 1924: “The Formalists show a fast ripening religiousness. They are followers of St. John. They believe that ‘In the Beginning was the Word’. But we believe that in the beginning was the deed. The word followed, its phonetic shadow.”
Which comes first, the deed or the word? Which is the shadow? And can art dominate reality? See her entry for more thought-provoking quotes.
Addendum. This stanza from a Les Murray poem (“The Edgeless”) found at Ramage seems to fit here:
Where does talk come from? The two ask each other
over teacups. – From the same place as the world.
We have got the word and we don’t understand it.
It is like too much. – So we made up a word of our own
as much like nothing else as possible
and gave it to the machines. It made them grow –
And now we can’t see the limits of that word either.